(A/N and Dislaimer: Hola queridas, Rie is officially back in action ahora. I own nothing from, connected to or otherwise concerning NCIS. I watched Kill Ari (both parts) again about a week ago, and that and a wierd Gibbs/Abby impulse inspired me to start writing this. That, and Kelsey; por supuesto. There isn't a single fic on here that I could claim full credit for; even if I wrote it, she inspired it. Tambien, I want to say muchas gracias to Kate - if you're reading this, you know where the title came from. Thankyou.
R&R appreciated and returned as always. Essay over; lets rock and roll...)

Chapter One: In which Gibbs breaks the news to Abby, and they both look for something to hold on to.

It was all she could say but not even a fraction of what she felt. Abby had often heard people describe grief as numb; but for her, it made her hands shake, her stomach twist and her mind spin into oblivion all at once. She half-wished that she could be like other people and, for a short while, feel the numb sense of shock as she tried to process the terrible news they had just heard. But in her line of work, she had always had to make sense of things quickly; and now as soon as the news of Kate's death reached her ears the full weight of realization and the pain of loss hit her like a tonne of reinforced concrete. Yet all she could manage to say was that single word.

'No...' she said again; taking a step backwards, her voice trembling, as if complete, monosyllabic denial would bring Kate back. He looked at her, his eyes full of pain in their shared loss but also full of understanding and pity for her.
'I'm so, so sorry; Abs' he said quietly. He reached out a hand, and she recoiled as if the touch she had felt so many times before would now burn or poison her.
'She – she can't be…' Abby shook her head, the movement combining with the tears threatening to fall making the face of the man in front of her a blur; about as clear to her as the thoughts rushing through her mind.
'She was shot twice. First time in the chest; her jacket saved her. The second…' he paused, recalling in painful accuracy the events leading to Kate's death before carefully relaying them to the distraught young woman in front of him, '…once through the forehead. If it's any consolation...she didn't feel a thing…'

His own words sickened him. His words sounded pathetic even to him, and he doubted they would have reassured a three year old. How was the fact that Kate hadn't felt the slug rip through her and snuff out her life faster than they could stop it supposed to comfort Abby now? Kate may have felt nothing as she died; but now everyone she had left behind wished they could stop feeling, just for one second, as their loss overwhelmed them.

At his words, Abby burst into tears, her shoulders shaking as uncontrollably as the rest of her body. She made to turn away from him; the bearer of the news that had just turned her world upside-down in the space of half a second, but the hand that she had shrunk back from a moment ago caught her by the arm and turned her back around. Ashamed at her own tears and loath to meet his eyes, she turned her head away from him. Seeing her, like a reflection of the terrible pain he felt - but did not; could not and would not show – almost broke his heart even beyond its current state of torture. He hated to see her cry, as rare as it was, at the best of times - and now, as the one who had delivered the news of her best friend's death; he felt personally responsible for her tears.

Gently, he took her face in his hands and tilted it up so she had to look at him. His hands were shaking, but warm and familiar; and in her grief and shock she was powerless to resist. His eyes met hers; her green eyes red-rimmed from crying, with dark lashes spiked with tears. His were the same clear, ice-blue as ever; but they were filled with silent anguish. The air of the room seemed heavy with the pain of the two people in it; the silence perforated only by Abby's soft sobbing.

It was Gibbs who pulled Abby's shaking form towards him to cut the space between them as their lips touched; a gesture of grief and shared pain and anger and sorrow and denial and infinite other emotions pressing down upon both of them. It wasn't a kiss of passion, or love, but it signified for both of them that the loss of Kate was a loss they shared. Neither could ever have said that one felt the current pain more than the other.

Abby pulled away from Gibbs' kiss, tears still coursing down her cheeks. He still held her tightly in his arms, and knowing that he needed the contact – something to hold onto and feel real – as much as she did, she didn't resist. She laid her head on his chest, and he rested his gently on top of hers. The sound of his heartbeat beneath his shirt would have soothed Abby, if it hadn't reminded her that Kate's heart was beating no more, and thanks to a renegade SOB terrorist was now as still and silent as the lab around them. She wrapped her arms around him as her tears fell onto his chest.

'Gibbs…I-'she tried to speak, but the words caught in her throat. He placed a finger gently on her lips, and raised his hands from her back to sign; in that silent language of touches and gestures that they shared.
Don't try to speak. Just…He was unable to think of a word that described what he wanted for her. What he wanted was to take her in his arms and take her somewhere where she felt no pain, no aching stab of grief in the pit of her stomach every time Kate – now condemned to memory – crossed her mind, somewhere he could hold her and protect her and let her feel safe, and warm, and loved. But how to convey this, in any language; spoken aloud or signed; was beyond even him. He was tired, and drained, and more than anything he wanted to be alone to let the terrible truth of Kate's demise sink in. But he couldn't. Abby needed him. And as always, Abby came first.

He lowered his hands and put his arms around her again, and kissed her forehead. Abby closed her eyes as a few tears spilled out from below her lids. He was right, as always. No words were needed. The warmth of each others bodies when everything else felt unstable and wrong was enough for each of them – for now.

(THIS WILL EVENTUALLY BE SEVERAL CHAPTERS LONG - I'll have the second part up within a day or two. Be warned - Chapter Two will be much longer, and just as angsty. Watch this space...)